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Hi everyone!
It’s been a while since I posted, and for that I apologize. Work has been very busy, and the holiday season proved to be a very fun and lucrative one, both professionally and personally. I’m still working at my long-time clinic as well as the day spa, and I have to say that both are very different.

I am still getting used to how things work at the newer place, including the politics of navigating relationships with massage therapists who have been in the game for longer than I have been alive. I’ve found that there is a weird sense of entitlement and snobbery among those who have been practicing since the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, at least with a few of the therapists that I’ve come in contact with. They seem to want to tell everyone exactly how they like to do things and that clearly since I do look young, I obviously have no idea what I’m doing. It’s simultaneously insulting and helpful…sometimes. Most of the time, it’s just insulting.

For example, last night I was subbing in a shift, which included a couples massage smack dab in the middle of the shift, which is fine. I’m used to doing couples massages, actually I enjoy them because it usually affords the opportunity to learn something new from other therapists.

Anyway, so my partner therapist walks right into my treatment room, where I’m setting up from my last session which had just ended, and says,”We have a couples together in ten minutes”. I smile at her, nod and say ok, not pausing during my sheet-folding because I know I have someone right after our session together. She’s still standing there, arms crossed. “I expect to start on time and to end on time.” I nod again and say as brightly as I can,”yep, that’s the plan! I’ll be there in a minute!” She finally leaves. I show up to the couples room with five minutes to go before we are going to go together to pick up our people, and she looks at me (as if I can’t read the super-sized clock) and goes,”Five minutes,” holding up five fingers. I simply nod as I check around the room to make sure I know where all the necessary supplies are. As we are walking down the hall to the reception area, she says, very matter-of-factly,”Clients don’t like a lot of chit-chat during their massages, just pressure-checks, and that’s it.” I nod dumbly and walk behind her to go meet our clients, since obviously she believes she’s in charge of the session.

The second she meets them, she acts like she’s known them forever. Joking about ‘oh, is this your anniversary? hot date? haha!’. It takes several minutes of enduring this JUST TO GET THEM INTO THE ROOM. I very quickly go over things with my client, explaining how things are going to go and where to put his clothes, as well as the typical intake and expectations. My part is done very quickly and I’m left standing there making awkward small-talk with my client while the other two are just chatting away. Finally, we are both able to leave the room. When we re-enter the room, I note to myself that we are in no way starting on time like she wanted to, and she seemed perfectly fine with it.

The whole massage session is perfectly pleasant, despite the constant talking between my partner and her client, which obviously went against her whole ‘chit-chat’ warning earlier. Knowing her control issues, I figured I’d just keep working until the time when I assumed we’d stop, spending extra time on the feet just in case she actually wanted to give them their full hour. Luckily I did that, because two minutes before time was ending, she gave the ‘wrap it up’ signal. I finished up, told my client time was done for the evening, checked in on how he was feeling, and left the room. She came out shortly after, and said,”Wow, you were very quiet in there”. I just shrugged, smiled and said,”Well, I like to let my clients lead the conversation”.
Morpheus

Hi everyone!
A lot has happened since I last posted. I attended the AMTA National Convention in Denver in September. It was my first national convention and it was pretty great. I met a lot of cool massage therapists from different parts of the country, and learned so much from the classes they offered. I took Active Isolated Stretching: Releasing the Shoulders, with Joshua Morton, Active Muscle Therapy with Jeffrey Forman, a skin cancer class and Interacting with the Perinatal Healthcare System with the always informative Carole Osborne. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to attending the next national convention in Pittsburgh!

In other news…

I celebrated two years at my current clinic in October. TWO YEARS! Craziness, right?
Well, things are about to change. Change is good. I recently moved back to my hometown and made the decision to find a job closer to home.

On Monday, I had my massage practical for a well-respected day spa located ten minutes away from my house. It was silly for me to be nervous, since I do about six hours of bodywork every work night, but luckily the evaluator seemed to understand. I did an hour long, full body session on the evaluator, including abdominal work, and she seemed to be pleased.

This afternoon, I opened my email to this awesome bit of news:

We would like to hire you as a massage therapist. D said you were talented and your energy was positive.

OMG. YAY!

SOOO EXCITED!

SOOO EXCITED!

The rest of the email discussed my starting pay which is already a nice increase from what I am currently making after two years at my current clinic. I only have to commit to three shifts a week, averaging five hours, to be eligible for full medical, dental and vision benefits as well as a 401k! One of the other perks is that I’ll have access to the steam rooms, hot tubs, cold plunges and other amenities of this spa during my off-hours, which I think is pretty awesome.

I’m anxiously looking forward to meeting with the hiring manager to discuss shifts that are available. I don’t know how soon I’ll be leaving my current job, but I am hoping to maybe work both until the end of the year.

Wow, it has certainly been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. Sorry about that! Since I’ve last posted, I’ve gotten certified in medical massage and got my license for massage renewed. I cannot believe it’s been TWO YEARS since I became a certified massage therapist, where does the time go? I’m still at the same clinic that I started at in October of 2012 and I am looking forward to moving on to the next phase of my career soon.

In other news…

On Saturday night, I am going to go to my first Crystal Sound Healing session over at the yoga studio I go to. It’s a once a month thing, and the woman who leads the hour-long session is well-known and respected in the area for energy and sound healing. 

Crystal sound healing? Really? That sounds like a bunch of hooey, even for me, a certified holistic healer and massage therapist. Still, I’m fascinated by the concept of using sound as a method of healing and I’ll try anything once. I know that I’m profoundly affected by music and certain tones, so maybe this will be an effective tool for me on my quest for baby. I don’t expect any life-altering moments during the hour session, but who knows? Maybe I’ll become balanced again, since I haven’t been to acupuncture in about a month because of some fun financial stuff. Honestly, it can’t hurt, and I would love it if this session allowed me to become unstuck. From all the things that I’ve read about Crystal Sound Healing, it can help with sleep, stress reduction, accelerating the internal healing process, all of which sounds (ha) really good to me.

gobabywithhope

So just in case anyone is wondering where I’ve been, I was asked to start blogging about another topic besides massage therapy, mainly my fertility struggles.

I started a new blog on WordPress that can be found here: Gobabywithhope so that I can try to separate the two a bit. I’ll still be updating this one quite a bit, don’t you worry!

It occurred to me a few days ago that August 20th marked my one year anniversary of graduating from massage therapy school. Total craziness. My life has been changed for the better and I still can’t believe that my life would have changed so much just starting a new path in August 2011. Wow, time flies. I’ll be hitting my one year mark of my job at the clinic soon, in less than a month, a fact that totally astounds me.

I honestly do love my job and I’m still passionate about it. While I know my style is not for everyone, I have created a long and happy client base, and I think they appreciate that I am still constantly learning. I’m currently a Teaching Assistant still at my school and it’s so cool to see students find their calling, or at least part of it. In August 4-7th, I attended the World Massage Festival at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I took classes from Margie Schaeffer (Craniosacral Muscle Massage), Ralph Stephens (Medical Massage For Cranial Pain) and Taum Sayers (Berry Method of Structural Correctional Massage for Carpal Tunnel). It was amazing and humbling to meet so many bodyworkers who have been in the industry for decades. While I’m not sure yet where this path will take me, or even if I’ll be a massage therapist in 5, 10, 15 years, it is awesome to see what my future might look like. I am on the lookout already for my next class to take, and there are definitely a few certifications I am really interested in.

-Nicole

I work four weekday nights and one weekend day morning. I’ve definitely noticed that on the days where I am too lazy to hit the gym before work, my personal performance during a massage therapy session suffers somewhat. Not that my clients can really tell the difference, but I feel that on non-workout days, especially if it has been a few days, that I’m struggling to go deeper and that my core strength is not 100%. So, I’ve established a super quick, ten minute pre-work ritual that allows me to get the blood pumping a little bit so that I’m warmed up and ready to kick butt on my first massage of the night, even if it’s a relaxing Swedish! On nights where I am feeling particularly ambitious (or a slow night where I am bored), I’ll go into my treatment room and quietly do more sets. Here, for your enjoyment, is my warm up routine, taken largely from Marco Borges fabulous personal training book, Power Moves.’ I usually get about three sets in, but sometimes I get more and I stretch afterwards.

Squat Press without Weights (5 reps, build up to 15)
Muscles Worked: Primary- Quads, Shoulders; Secondary- Hamstrings, Glutes, Abs, Back
1. Start with feet shoulder width apart, arms bent so that your hands are at your shoulders.
2. Squat with hips pushed back into chair position till your thighs are parallel with the ground, keeping your back straight and abs & back muscles contracted and heels on the ground.
3. As you squat, reach up towards the sky.
4. Come back slowly into starting position with your hands back at shoulder height.

Reverse Lunge Press (5 reps, build up to 15)
Muscles Worked: Primary- Hamstrings, Quads, Shoulders; Secondary- Glutes, Triceps, Abs, Back
1. Start with feet shoulder width apart, elbows bent at shoulder height, palms facing forward.
2. Step back with one leg and reach your arms toward the sky while bending the opposite leg at the knee. Make sure your knee is in line with your ankle, not your toes, and return to starting position.
3. Repeat with alternate legs.

Towel drag (I do this on carpet with my socks on instead of the towel, but it’s just as hard)
Muscles Worked: Primary- Chest, Triceps; Secondary- Shoulders, Abs, Hip Flexors, Low Back
1. Begin legs straight, feet pointed down on the towel, body extended with palms facing down, arms shoulder width apart.
2. Drop down into push-up position, keeping elbows bent and close to your body.
3. When you push yourself back up, slide your feet forward, attempting to get as close to your body as possible with straight arms.
4. Slide your legs back into starting position.

I say a lot about the healing power of touch and the great benefits that it has to the human psyche. I’ve experienced this during the death of my sister, and it took several months for me to get back to feeling like myself. That terrible, disembodied feeling you get when you realize someone you thought you would get old, sassy, and wrinkled with (her first!) is not among the living was so strong and pervasive, I had begun to wonder if I’d ever be back in my own body. I grew used to viewing the world as if I was watching myself through a tv camera from far away, and I hated that feeling.

Early on, that same night of her physical passing, I noticed that even just my husband stroking my back and holding my hands as we held each other in grief helped to momentarily ground myself back into my body and into the new reality that I had to face without my sister. My classmates and bodywork partners at my massage therapy school were essential to that process, sometimes whether they wanted to be or not, and for them I am eternally grateful. They all know that I was on the verge of quitting school when my sister died, but they showed me kindness, friendship, and compassion during both the pre-grieving and grieving process. I am also convinced that doing the bodywork as well as receiving helped me to cope and to attempt to heal since it allowed me to step away from myself in a healthy way and focus on another person.

I didn’t think I would feel the disembodied feeling again so soon.

On Sunday, June 2nd, I discovered that the embryo I was carrying had no heartbeat at about ten weeks and that I was, and still am, going through what doctors call a “missed miscarriage”. This means that at some point, possibly just a day or so ago, something went wrong and my body has yet to recognize it is no longer carrying a life. I was, and still am, pretty devastated even though I have been told by countless people that I did not do anything wrong, that it just happens and that it does not mean I am broken or defective in any way. I’ve never felt so strongly for a life that I’ve never even met. He or she was just beginning to form into my little baby boy or girl, and yet I do feel somehow like I’ve actually lost a child.

I vaguely remember the phone call from the doctor who had to tell me the awful news dropped because I had forgotten to let it charge. The second it did, I started sobbing uncontrollably and my mom rushed over to see what was wrong. I blubbered out “there’s no heartbeat” before collapsing in her arms, followed by repeated outbursts of “it’s not fair”. I honestly do not remember what, if any vocal response she had for me, but I am sure it was supportive and loving. I do recall her stroking my back in an attempt to calm me down. Her hand on my back snapped me back into reality and I realized that this was actually happening to me and not to someone else that I was watching from faraway.

I have taken the week off from work because my body still believes it is carrying life and the surgical procedure I need to kickstart the “awareness” is happening sometime this week. I also made an appointment with a trusted massage therapy colleague to try to facilitate my emotional and physical journey back to feeling human.